John Carter (2012) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

What went wrong at the Disney movie factory to produce a movie this expensive only to come out with a product so bland? On paper everything lines up, the director of Pixar’s Finding Nemo steps behind the camera for his first foray in to live-action cinema, a story that influenced Star Wars and numerous artists, plus a hefty budget to afford the best special effects in the industry. So it’s a bit stunning to gaze at the screen and realize that some of the most gifted craftsmen in Hollywood have created the Dune of our generation.

This overlong and self important work lacks humor or any sense of self depreciation. The writing is on the level of George Lucas and the acting is passable, especially when considering the actors have to mouth nearly unpronounceable names and places. There are too many scenes that just fall flat, stopping any sort of momentum sustained to that point.

Front, and center is Taylor Kitsch an actor that I very much admired as Tim Riggins on television’s Friday Night Lights. That is a well written show full of originality, wit and gravitas, all which John Carter is lacking in every department. I do not want to harp on Kitsch too harshly, but his two attempts at action lead in this and Battleship have not shown the promise that was glimpsed in his previous work.

The ironic part of the problem here is that the central themes, and even character archetypes have been borrowed heavily in some of the biggest sci-fi blockbuster of the last century (Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, Avatar). So even though Princess of Mars is the original text it’s the last to the screen making the proceedings feel redundant and uninvolved. Even the so called wow moments fall flat and the CGI ranges from laughable to adequate, sometimes within the same scene.

Is John Carter the equivalent of Battlefield Earth? No. Its much more handsome visually than anything in the grungy looking Hubbard adaption. Regardless of the financial loss this film generated, it is not the worst movie of all time, it’s not even the worst movie of the year. That is about all the praise I can think to bestow on John Carter.

Director: Andrew Stanton
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong

One thought on “John Carter (2012) – Review

  • January 24, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    I understand the “hate’ if you will, but I really enjoyed the film (to an extent). Visually, I thought it was one of the best looking films of the year, with the CGI aliens blending in flawlessly to the backdrops and scenery. The problem? The disgusting script that never knows where to go. Too much time is spent on explaining the setting and the people instead of just going on the adventure we so desired.

    It doesn’t help that Disney butchered the marketing on the film, flip-flopping titles and never knowing how to sell the movie. Taylor Kitsch was a worthwhile risk, I think, but like you said, he doesn’t bring any of the charm or wit that made him good in Friday Night Lights.

    While I won’t defend the film to its death, I actually look forward to a sequel (that will never happen). Now that the world is created, and somewhat explained, I want a worthwhile adventure. Give Kitsch a witty sidekick, ease up his eyebrows and brooding stares, and I’ll definitely go back to Mars for another trip.


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